2020 New Zealand Gateball Teams Championship from an Australian perspective

When Dennis Bulloch advertised that the N.Z. Gateball Championship was being held at Rose Gardens Croquet Club at Palmerston North 6-8th March, there were some very excited ex-Kiwi players in the Gateball community who were very keen to travel there to compete. As a result three teams were formed from the Queenslanders. One was called Aussie Gold which had players from Rockhampton, Caloundra and Eildon. Judy Tier from Canberra linked in with Southport and two teams were formed – Southport Red and Southport White. There were two players from Mt Gambier who joined with a player from Kew to compete in a composite team which included two local NZ players.

The Aussie Contingent

The draw for the competition was organised later than would have been desired because of the withdrawal of 4 teams from Indonesia. But the positive and very friendly atmosphere of all associated with Rose Gardens Croquet Club meant a ‘can do’ approach took over. Courts were set out for the practice day on the Friday, then early on Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday afternoon Glenda Windust who is an International referee from the Caloundra Mallet Sports Club provided plenty of valuable insights into refereeing for those who were new to the game. Thank you Glenda.

On Saturday the sun shone brightly and the lawns changed speed quite quickly. All teams suffered from balls accidentally being sent off the court.  The young fellows from Rose Gardens CC were skilful with stroking the ball but they were to be shown some hard lessons in the tactics of the game. It was a very positive time for all of them.  By the end of the afternoon, Southport Red team was undefeated after 5 games and won the Championship.The beautiful new trophy of a globe on a wooden stand was presented to the team.

In second place was the Mt Gambier Team. The players did not know each other very well yet achieved good results. Below is the photograph of them with Dennis Bulloch (in red shirt) who organised the Championship.

Barbara Northcott
Queensland State Director

First New Zealand Open Gateball Championship.

Rose Gardens Croquet Club recently hosted the first New Zealand Open Gateball Championships on their lawns in the Esplanade. 

A third of the players in this tournament were from Rose Gardens and the balance from Australian clubs; Rockhampton (Qld), Southport (Qld) Canberra, Mount Gambier (SA), Kew (Vic), Caloundra (Qld) and Eildon (Qld). Some New Zealanders were guest players for Australian clubs and Croquet New Zealand President, Kathie Grant played for Southport as she is a member of that club.

The Mayor Grant Smith, having opened the tournament and run the first hoop, Saturday saw teams of five competing. Here, the tactics of the experienced Australian players told, with the eventual winners, Southport Red, being unbeaten in their five games. The Mount Gambier team were runners up. The better performing of the two Rose Gardens teams was Red Sparks, in fourth place with two wins. 

Sunday was occupied with Doubles play, and was notable for the play of the five participating Rose Gardens teenage members against their more experienced Australian opposition. Logan McKinnon and Jacob Mildenhall were unbeaten in section play, and in the final, lost a close game 16-12 to Philip Brown (Kew) and Leah O’Neill (Mount Gambier) to be runners up. Callum McKinnon and Bradley Forsyth, were second placed in their section and lost narrowly 16-12 to Kathie Grant and Barbara Northcott (Southport) in the playoff for third place.

At Rose Gardens, gateball is offered to members as a code additional to association and golf croquet, and a dozen members turned out for this tournament. We look for bigger numbers for this Tournament, next year, as interest in the game is being shown in other parts of New Zealand, and we would expect more overseas players to participate. 

Rex Oliver, Publicity Officer
Rose Gardens Croquet Club Inc

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Visit to World and Japanese Gateball Union

At the request of the National Coordinator, Barbara and Jim Northcott represented Gateball Australia at the World and Japanese Gateball Union’s new office to make enquiries and update the organisation about gateball in Australia. They report that:
 
The new offices are in a huge building which has all of the Sports Federations/ Organisations in the one skyscraper. Japan Hockey is across the hall from Gateball. Rugby along the corridor. The Olympic Museum is on the ground floor and the Olympic Committee on the top floor. The building looks over the new Olympic Stadium which was officially opened last week. People everywhere gawking and taking photos just like we did.
 
Items discussed at the meeting included:
 

1. The recent interest shown by NZ Croquet in gateball and moves by that organisation to support the development of the game.

2. The 2019 Australian Gateball Championships were reported as being both successful and very friendly. Barbara explained the place and the venue for 2021 and hoped Japanese teams would visit and play. Fridge magnets were distributed

3. Additional copies of the 2019 rule book were reported as not having been printed yet. Ten copies were initially sent to Gateball Australia and others will follow in the new year.

4. The Asian Gateball Union Championships have been planned for Shen Zheng in Guangdong Province for November 2020. However with current uncertainties in Hong Kong there is doubt about that being a certainty because people from overseas have to fly via Hong Kong. A meeting will be held in January or February to clarify the situation

5. An update of issues facing Gateball Australia were clarified for the WGU
 
On another day, Jim and Barbara played gateball at Kita Park. They reported: Satoshi Kamijo, Keiichi Imagawa, Shoiichi Nakamura (he is playing in the World Croquet Champs in Melbourne as the only Japanese player involved), Taka, who played in Melbourne with Woodville) attended and are all English speakers . A mixed group of others – young, talented men  and older players, male and female, all met after Satoshi organised it. There were almost twenty of us. 
 
Good fun, interesting tactics and plenty of snacks kept us there from 10 to 3:30. I certainly spoke about 2021, gave out the fridge magnets, Keiichi translated, hotel accommodation and best airports were discussed. I feel positive there will be definite interest from this younger group as opposed to the players at Adachi where we normally play.
 

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‘JOIN’ joined in everything

The visiting team from South Korea, known as ‘JOIN’, arrived ahead of the Nationals and asked whether they could play some gateball in the Sydney area. They certainly worked hard!

Nails done and ready to roll

Thursday 21st November – Epping welcomed the Korean team to the Epping Croquet Club, along with gateball and croquet players from Epping, Holroyd, Newcastle, Toronto and Strathfield croquet clubs. Games were played in front of a large audience. 

An excellent morning tea and lunch was supplied by Ken Poole and the Epping Croquet Club. After lunch, the Korean team showed the finer points of ball placement and a whole range of different shots. Not sure we’ll be able to duplicate them. They were very generous and patient with their coaching. We appreciated their time and trouble in suggesting ways to improve our game.

Quoting Rose from the Toronto Croquet Club, “The Koreans played with such precision, accuracy and humility. I could have watched them play all day long”. We did indeed play all day long or until everyone said “enough”. A very enjoyable day was had by all.

Friday 22nd – President Mary Gibson welcomed the Korean team to the Mosman Croquet Club. A large audience of Mosman Croquet Club members watched the Korean team play the members and guests on the beautiful grounds overlooking Sydney harbour.

Once again, the Korean team displayed their skills and accuracy. We enjoyed lunch as a cool breeze entered the Mosman Pavilion. After lunch the Korean team displayed the finer points of gateball. At day’s end, Mary and her team dropped the Korean team off at Taronga Wharf where they were taking a ferry on the harbour.

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Monday 25thA weekend in the Blue Mountains introduced the team to the vagaries of mountain weather – hot, cold and smoky. The team pitched in to cook the BBQ and the women beat the men at the Finska garden game. On Monday everyone drove down to Lithgow and again were treated to a master class from ‘JOIN’. They took so much time to explain techniques and suggest ways to improve our performance.

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Tuesday 26th – Strathfield Croquet Club President Ann Shaddick welcomed the Korean team. The Mayor of Strathfield also welcomed them. All players then took to the court and played several games prior to morning tea and lunch.

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Everyone was impressed with the Korean Team as they consistently produced a very high standard of play. Strathfield member Petula Shun said, “For me I have only being playing gateball for 6 months and as I am a trainee referee they encouraged me to practise assisting their referee. They also included some basics like stance and just striking and sparking. They were just so generous. It’s easy to see the practice they do with 24 hour facility available!!

Stories supplied by Sandra Townley – Epping Croquet Club, Maggi Williams – Lithgow Croquet Club and members of various clubs.

Visit of the Korean team

Notes from my diary….

Tomorrow, our club hosts the ‘JOIN’ Korean gateball team. The lawns are ready, the weather just has to behave itself! The Mayor of Strathfield, Councillor Antoine Doueihl will be coming at 10am to ‘meet and greet’ this talented and nice team from near Busan, South Korea. At least this experience is helping me to get to know more about Korea and Koreans.  Another special guest and SCC Club member is Lucille McKenna who will be coming tomorrow, not only to volunteer but also to represent the InnerWestCouncil, as Lucille is one of their Councillors.

This increasing knowledge of Korea, which hopefully more of us will experience over time and not be confined to just Korea, can only strengthen ties between citizens of our respective countries, at least at the personal level as well as the gateball level. The connection with Korea was strongly felt by me today when I attended – coincidentally – a luncheon in honour of Korean War Veterans at Concord Hospital.  My husband (Keith) who died in 2016 was a Korean War Veteran. This function in honour of Veterans and their guests was hosted by the Consul-General of Korea, Sangwoo Hong.  Whilst I had invited the Consul-General to the SCC event he was unavailable that day and this was this next best thing. As the Consul-General pointed out, next year is particularly significant for Australian-Korean bonds as they commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Ceasefire.

Keith and I used to attend annually the Cheil Church at North Strathfield, again in honour of Korean Veterans. However, today was the first time I had a really long and pleasant discussion (over lunch) with a lady who attends that church. So at the next anniversary function I will go with the knowledge, I now know one of their parishioners, that kind Korean lady at my table, who gave our croquet club the Korean flag. She felt it had a more valuable role to play in that location, rather than being stored at her home. Its presence will add to the welcome the Korean team will feel with their flag on display tomorrow. Epping Club borrowed a Korean flag from their local Council and that gave me the idea. The flag is a significant addition to our club and a stepping stone to a closer connection. Today I also printed out a map of Korea and I wrote to Jay ( Jae-won), the son of the JOIN team’s manager who will act as interpreter tomorrow.  I asked Jay which was the closest city from which their team came. Jay said Busan (a port city in the very south).

So again this gateball experience, along with my husband’s war experience of Korea, is motivating me to really extend the hand of friendship to the Korean gateballers in a more meaningful way

Ruth Bridger
Strathfield Croquet Club